A Milwaukee business publication is reporting that a former Medical College of Wisconsin professor is claiming that she was disciplined and ultimately fired for arriving late to work after she attended an Islamic religious service. She has filed a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the school.
Dr. Zainab Basir worked for the medical college for nearly 20 years. She alleges that when she arrived late after a Ramadan Eid service, she was disciplined. When she complained about the treatment, she was given a notice of non-renewal of her contract. Her employment ended in February of last year.
She was hired as an assistant professor in 1998 and promoted to associate professor in 2005.
The Medical College of Wisconsin said it “vigorously denies” Dr. Basir’s claims in her lawsuit.
She states that she arrived at work around 12:45 p.m. She had notified co-workers that she would be arriving late because of that day’s religious service. According to BizTimes, the practice and policy of the department was that physicians didn’t have set times to arrive or leave work and that they could leave for lunch and personal errands.
Basir says that when supervisors learned that she had been away that morning for the service, they changed her professional duties. Basir considered the changes to be discipline for coming in late after attending the religious service.
After she sent an email to her supervisor opposing the change in duties, he apparently asked the dean of the school of medicine to approve a non-renewal notice for Dr. Basir. She gave the school a letter objecting to the religious discrimination and about a month and a half later, was given a performance improvement plan that included specific work hours not required of the rest of the faculty.
We do not know how the lawsuit will be resolved, but it is clear that the fight against religious discrimination is far from over in this country. With the help of an experienced employment law attorney, you can protect your rights, religious beliefs and career.